Sapphire and Steel : Assignment 3

April 25, 2014 in Cult TV, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest blog by Hevy782


After a haunted house and an abandoned railway station, the series starts to move into a more sci-fi direction in the third assignment of Sapphire and Steel. While the series does very much have a sci-fi core, it also as a lot of horror elements which often ends up pushing the sci-fi stuff to the background, especially in the previous story. Now we head to the opposite end of the spectrum with a story that has sci-fi very much in the forefront with a time capsule from the thirty-fifth century containing a family sent to study life in the twentieth century. This itself gives a very unique set up to the story as rather than objects from the past being the anachronism that causes all the trouble, it’s an object from the future that is trying to tamper with Time. This story is also slightly shorter than the last part at a length of six parts and is once again written by P J Hammond, now let’s take a closer look.

First up we have to talk about Silver who is, like Lead from the first story, a specialist called in to help when needed. From the same order of Sapphire and Steel, he represents a much less distant element than that of Sapphire and Steel and is often joking, showing off and occasionally flirting. He is also established as a technician and has the power to meld metal items with his bare hands. His being there very much brings out a different side in Sapphire and Steel with Sapphire seeming to enjoy his presence while Steel seems a bit more tense around him. This brings up a romantic subject between them which gives us the idea that they do have a life outside of the missions that hasn’t been explored. There is also a bit of chat about Steels origins and the idea that they do have a past and a childhood which before have been very ambiguous. While we don’t get any details Steel does assure us that they are pleasant.

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The other characters we have in this story are Rothwyn and Eldred who are the humans conducting the experiment. They also have their baby which curiously enough remains unnamed and seems to always be referred to as either the baby or the child, never by an actual name. Rothwyn is quite an interesting character herself and is referenced to be possessing certain abilities that made her ideal for the experiment. She is the more likeable of the two and maintains a human quality while still being slightly off which reminds us she is from the future. Eldred is somewhat inconsistent as a character and does come across as a bit annoying at times. He is also used in an interesting way in satirising the people of the future by complaining about decency and whatnot but being totally fine with killing off the entire animal population of the planet.

Coming off from last stories shocking ending we keep with the idea that they are willing to sacrifice humans if necessary, Steel even seems to be encouraging them to kill themselves at one point. While this time it doesn’t prove necessary the possibility is very much there which leaves you just that little bit more tense. As far as scares go this story doesn’t have as many as previous episodes but I must say that it does have a couple which set me on edge. While the floating pillows themselves aren’t really scary it’s when we get the swan that it gets quite unnerving and the strangling scene is actually quite brutal. Another moment is where Rothwyn has an attack while holding the meat and the sounds and the visuals during this really are gruesome and made me feel a bit sick. To be honest they really do make you think about the morals behind eating meat. In fact, that seems to be one of the underlying tones of this story and it probably has made vegetarians out of some people because it was that effective.

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The idea behind the creature itself is actually quite interesting and it’s great how, while it was hinted at throughout the story, the reveal is kept right up until the final part which helps to rack up the tension until the last possible moment. However, part of me feels they left it a little too late as this lead to a slightly rushed resolution. The idea that all the animals in the future are dead and that the time capsule is partially made up of animal parts is quite ingenious and now that it’s out looking for revenge makes it all the more disturbing. However, when the creature leaves the walls only to hide apparently it begins to take away the threat a little that the creature is all around them. To make matters worse the creature is also trying to tamper with Time and persuade the humans to go out so they can change history. It also adds another moral aspect to the story in that is the creature justified for it’s actions and should animals really be treated in the way they are. It’s a debate that could (and probably will) go on forever but this story, for me at least, adds a new dimension to that debate. It’s a bit like a computer/machine uprising but in a much more disturbing way.

Another interesting part is that while Steel didn’t end up sacrificing anyone this time he did decide only to deal with the threat to Time and not to help humanities future by leaving the creature alive and well inside the time capsule which leaves Rothwyn and Eldred still very much in danger. Also, Steel did seem very willing to destroy the whole building and everyone in it just to stop the threat to reality, which makes you think how much blood does he have on his hands. An interesting idea story wise is that the interaction between the agents and the humans is only really in the final part and they spend most of the story separated. For the first three parts you have Sapphire, Silver and Steel trying to get inside the capsule while Rothwyn and Eldred are having trouble inside and then for the next few parts when they are finally in, Rothwyn and Eldred have disappeared. While this approach doesn’t work too well for the first two parts I think once Silver arrives it gets interesting on the outside as the interaction between Silver and Steel is a bit more interesting than that between Steel and Sapphire.

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To conclude, this story takes a drastically different turn than those which came before it and is slightly overshadowed by the two also. While it is a bit underwhelming after the first two it is still a great story in its own right with some quite some quite grim parts too.